Every time a good employee quits, your office loses knowledge and experience that could have enriched your organization. If you’re tired of training people only to lose them months later, consider adding a career development plan to your employee pipeline.
Beth Conklin, Director, Organizational Training and Development at State Collection Service, Inc. and Hal Trapp, AVP, Organizational Initiatives at Receivable Solutions, LLC., discussed career planning and development as panelists on a recent AccountsRecovery.net webinar. They shared best practices and knowledge based on their own experiences managing and developing teams.
What is an Employee Growth and Development Plan?
“It should really be introduced to that employee in the very beginning so they also have the vision and understand what that career path is,” says Conklin. “It should also be available to all employees, not just our collectors or our performance based employees.”
It can be tempting to spend much of your time developing call center agents who bring in revenue. But support staff, back office personnel and managers need your attention too. Remember, not everyone is the same, so your program should accommodate many types of employee professional development goals.
You should work toward a fuller understanding of your staff’s motivations so you are creating the best plans for them.
“Whether your organization has tiered collector level positions or you’re talking to people about leadership, or more support-based roles, having that conversation early and often – and understanding what their motivations are and where they want to be – helps you guide them,” says Trapp.
DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM GOALS
There are many reasons to focus your energy on creating better employee career development plans. Mainly, these programs are a win because they help you train staff for promotions, making personnel changes easier. These plans can also:
- Improve company culture - People want to feel valued. A development plan shows staff you appreciate their work and want to keep them at your company. The care and attention you pay to your employees will pay for itself by helping you retain happy, loyal people.
- Create flexibility - Smaller teams may benefit from cross training, which makes coverage easier when the office is short staffed. This also gives employees the chance to discover what jobs they prefer.
- Reduce outside hiring issues - Outside hires can cause bitterness if current employees feel overlooked. Hiring from outside the company can also cause daily workflow issues. Rounds of interviews, onboarding and getting a new person up to speed causes major disruption that could be avoided with a prepared, well-trained pool of internal candidates.
What Should a Training and Development Plan Include?
Employee growth plans should include paths for every individual in your organization. No matter what department staff are currently in, they should know you care about their future. What are some items to consider when building your staff development plan?
Training and timeline milestones
Set up a process and create a timeline for specific training milestones. These will be specific to each position. Get input from department heads and associates about appropriate training and development timelines.
Key Performance Indicators
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a great way to monitor agent progress and spot potential problems. Creating benchmarks for your staff gives them a clear goal to work towards. Develop performance markers for each department and job type, so every employee stays motivated and has personal goals to look forward to.
Hands on training
Boost employee knowledge and identify potential promotion opportunities by allowing people to try new things. Facilitate “test driving” jobs in your company to build skills while allowing them to decide if a position would be a good fit permanently.
Create a culture of transparency around the positions you offer and what they entail. You can’t always tell from a job title who would be successful in a role. Let your staff make more informed choices about their career paths.
How to Develop Staff Who Do Not Want to Advance
Don’t push people into advancement if they aren’t interested. Not everyone wants to manage a team or move to another department. Being forced into a growth and development plan can sour staff on working for you or cause them to perform poorly.
On the other hand, if you aren’t regularly checking in on these employees, you run the risk of making them feel neglected.
Some employees also worry about losing money by taking a promotion. Development plans that highlight tiered collection levels, different benefit packages for managers or exclusive contests and bonuses may help incentivize these individuals.
Building rapport and staying informed of each person’s motivations will put them at ease to be open about their professional goals.
Training Entry Level Staff for Management Roles
Moving someone from the collection floor into management can be a big transition. Your training development plan for entry level staff moving into management should focus on all aspects of the position. Some areas to consider:
- Administrative training - do they know how to pull reports or use all of the systems they will be expected to access regularly? Your managers likely have elevated credentials or access to different systems than front line staff. Make sure there is adequate time and training for them to learn.
- Human resources training - promoting a collector may create some confusing dynamics. Chances are, the new manager will be in charge of people they view as friends. Provide extensive human resources training so they can navigate these situations successfully.
- General knowledge - feel out how much general knowledge your new manager has about computers. Make sure they can create spreadsheets, understand how to use meeting software, best ways to use email, etc. Assuming what they know can create issues, so be sure you’re arming staff with all the information they need.
Employee Evaluation Programs
Creating an employee evaluation program will help you prequalify the employees who are prepared for and interested in advancement. Setting up a requirement for which training modules should be completed, or what metrics staff must maintain will show you who is ready for more responsibility.
Along with this, be sure to get feedback from those working their way through the program. Your vision for a course or module may be different from how it works in execution. You want all your courses to be successful, so getting input is essential.
Conklin says that prerequisites for development are a good way to see who is serious about the next step in their careers. However, she suggests looking at all aspects of the applicant, including how closely people have followed the instructions you’ve given for applications, programs or interviews.
If some people are not submitting everything they must, or don’t seem to have put much thought into the materials you require, this may help you make decisions during evaluation.
Are you looking for ways to improve your call center training and evaluation programs? Download this guide, created with the help of accounts receivable and training specialists, to:
- Learn training strategies that encourage greater information retention and course-to-job application.
- Understand what factors to consider when creating or updating your training plans.
- Learn ways to measure the effectiveness of your programs through evaluation.